Photo Credit: Original work: Andr Waterkeyn, Depiction: Flickr user ctsnow
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Tubes connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose escalators connecting the spheres containing exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere provides a panoramic view of Brussels. Each sphere is 18 metres in diameter. Four spheres are currently (as of 2012) closed to visitors; others can be reached easily by escalators. The vertical vertex contains a lift which was very fast and advanced at the time of building (the speed is 5 m/s).
Renovation on the Atomium began in March 2004; it was closed to the public in October, and remained closed until February 18 2006. The renovations included replacing the faded aluminium sheets on the spheres with stainless steel. To help pay for renovations, the old aluminium was sold to the public as souvenirs. A triangular piece about 2 m long sold for â‚¬1,000.
The renovation includes revamped exhibition spaces, a restaurant, and a dormitory for visiting schoolchildren called "Kids Sphere Hotel" which features suspended plastic sphere towers. A â‚¬2 commemorative coin depicting the sculpture was issued in March 2006 to celebrate the renovation.
The Atomium is one of the most visited attractions in Brussels today. In 2008, the Atomium celebrated its 50th anniversary, with activities planned all year, including free admission for those turning 50 between April and October.
Three of the four uppermost spheres lack vertical support and hence are not open to the public for safety reasons, although the sphere at the pinnacle is open to the public. The original design called for no supports; the structure was simply to rest on the spheres. Wind tunnel tests proved that the structure would have toppled in an 80 km/h wind (140 km/h winds have been recorded in Belgium). Support columns were added to achieve enough resistance against overturning.
Popular Culture References
The Atomium served as the tenth pit stop in The Amazing Race 19.
The Atomium can be seen in background of the 1968 music video for Pink Floyd's "Paint Box"
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